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Relearning How to Stand Up for Myself

Standing up for myself and having difficult conversations is something I haven’t done much of in, oh, 15 years. Doing these things has always been an effort for me, but I managed to do it fairly effectively before migraine overwhelmed me. Since then, all of my energy and emotional wherewithal have gone toward managing migraine. Added to those obstacles is the fact that migraine compromises my ability to think and find the words to express my needs. Simply put, I’ve been too exhausted and brain-fogged for the work of of conflict and difficult conversations.

It’s a big problem. It has reached nearly every area of my life, from store clerks and customer service reps, to coworkers, to friends and family. I’ve berated myself for being a doormat and felt like my place in the world had shrunk to almost nothing. Disappointments and frustrations mount and I feel like I have no voice. It’s not an emotionally healthy way to live, but my physical health has left little room for emotional self-care. I’ve been reconnecting to my emotional self and relearning those self-care skills since April, which has been hard, rewarding work.

I got to put that work into action yesterday by standing up for myself to the massage therapist I’m seeing for craniosacral therapy. My first sessions with her were great, but in the last two, she started some emotional therapy-type work and visualizations that were not OK. She meant well, but her technique left me feeling emotionally violated and unsafe. Instead of canceling my remaining appointments and never seeing her again, which was my instinct, I called her and established new “ground rules.” Confronting her was as much about the need to assert myself as it was about wanting to continue craniosacral therapy with her.

It’s only one step and was a relatively easy one, since I was pretty sure she would be receptive. Still, it’s one more step toward feeling like I’m a whole person who occupies a valuable place in the universe, not a migraine zombie.

4 Responses to Relearning How to Stand Up for Myself

  1. Katie Burke says:

    I struggle with feelings of invisibility sometimes. When I do, I use the mantra, “I get a vote.” I forget that sometimes. And, some days, getting myself to the polling booth, so to speak, takes too much energy.

    Thanks for sharing, Kerrie. In my own way, I can relate.

    And you take up a lot more space in the world than you probably think you do.

  2. Tanya says:

    wow! you have no idea how much it helped me, just now, to read this, and also the words of the individual who commented before me! I have been struggling to the point of exhaustion and hopelessness with this exact issue, due to the fact that every last scrap of my energy (which isn’t very much sometimes) fighting chronic migraine. I feel like my big personality, my assertiveness, my chutzpah…all of it has shrunk and faded, and I am truly invisible. thank you for sharing this.

  3. Alison says:

    I think of the refrain “don’t have to live like a refugee” by Tom Petty.

  4. Ellen says:

    So glad to find your blog–it seems like you say exactly how I’ve been thinking and feeling. I’ve had chronic persistent daily headaches since Dec 2009—- a lot less longer than you—but I understand. Thank you for sharing and putting into words what I now have a problem doing—you know brain fog.

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